Can a bee sting cure multiple sclerosis?
Most people try to avoid any contact with bees. However, to some people, honey bees are miniature flying drugstores that could reverse the course of multiple sclerosis. It is a controversial treatment known as bee venom therapy.
Kelly Ames was in high school when multiple sclerosis crept into her life. By the time Kelly was 22, her symptoms became impossible to ignore:
Medical tests revealed the cruel truth—Kelly had MS. The unforgiving disease first robbed her of the ability to walk alone. Before long, the disease attacked Kelly’s eyes:
Kelly’s doctor put her on steroids. These potent drugs can temporarily relieve the symptoms of MS. But for Kelly, the steroids could not stop the advance of the disease:
Then Kelly met a woman who had literally walked away from her wheelchair after stinging herself with honeybees. For Kelly Ames, it was a last ray of hope. Kelly’s father brought her to a local beekeeper who had been helping MS patients for years. The rest would be up to Kelly:
Kelly and her boyfriend set up a morning routine. He placed the bees at specific spots on Kelly’s body, spots where nerves running to the damaged areas were most accessible. For Kelly’s failing eyesight, that was behind the ear. Bees were also placed on Kelly’s lower back to treat the weakness in her legs. They were left in place for as long as 15 minutes to allow all their venom to penetrate the skin. Kelly’s nervous system had been so ravaged by MS that she was stung several hundred times before she actually felt the pain of the sting:
While some doctors dismiss the therapy as little better than voodoo, Kelly’s remarkable recovery is hardly unique. Kelly went on to teach bee venom therapy to others suffering from multiple sclerosis. One of her students was Maureen Naughton:
Maureen began to experience the symptoms of MS shortly after the birth of her second child. By the time Maureen began bee sting therapy, MS had numbed her feet so thoroughly, that she could hardly sense they were there:
A photo of Maureen and her son was taken six weeks after she began the bee venom therapy. In the photo, Maureen had just crossed the finish line in a seven-mile MS Walk-a-thon. Should we prize bees for their sting as well as their honey? Mainstream science has hardly begun to address the question, though some doctors believe bee venom therapy is far too promising to be ignored.